As you take your first steps towards renting out a property, you need to know what your responsibilities as a landlord are.
Before your tenants move into their new home, here are a few things you should know.
Is it my responsibility to insure the property?
For the building - yes. When it comes to home insurance, your tenants are responsible for their own contents and may buy their own contents insurance policy. But buildings insurance is down to you. It's created to protect you the landlord, your property being rented out and the tenants renting.
It's important to note, landlord insurance isn't a legal requirement. But, it can be risky not to have a policy in place if you're renting your property. If you're providing a furnished property, you can get contents insurance to cover the items that belong to you.
Responsibilities of private landlords
When you’re starting out as a landlord, you need to make sure you’ve done the groundwork.
First off, you need to give your new tenant a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide. This applies for any new tenant renting after 2015.
When your tenant pays their deposit, you need to place it in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. This is a legal requirement and ensures it’s kept safe.
Take some time to read the statutory guidance about renting out a property. There may be different rules if you're renting to council tenants, so you need to fully understand these.
Safety responsibilities of the landlord
The day your tenants move in, you need to give them a copy of the Gas Safe certificate. From then on, you need to ensure checks are carried out every 12 months by a registered Gas Safe engineer.
You’re also responsible for making sure the property is safe for your tenant. Any furniture you provide must adhere to fire safety regulations, and you must assess the safety of the water in the premises.
If they contact you with any issues, you need to respond as soon as you reasonably can.
You have to give them 24 hours’ notice to come to the property, and it needs to be at a reasonable time of day for the tenant.
What are the electrical safety regulations for landlords?
As a landlord, you have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment in your property is safe.
To do this, you need to have them checked by a competent electrician every 5 years. The electrician will give you a certificate once they're satisfied with the property.
You'll need to share a copy with your tenant (within 28 days of the assessment), as well as the local authority if it requests one.
If the inspection highlights that work needs doing, it must be done within 28 days. Both the tenant and local authority must have written confirmation that the work has been done within 28 days.
Landlord responsibilities for the property
Your tenant is responsible for keeping the property in a reasonable condition.
But whether you’re renting out private or commercial property, you’re still responsible for maintaining the building.
Should an issue with the building arise, such as loose tiles or a broken boiler, you need to resolve it as soon as you can.
Having landlord home emergency cover can help give you peace of mind in these situations.
If it’s something to do with the electrics or plumbing, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and you might want to hire a tradesperson. You also need to check the boiler once a year, along with any other items that need regular servicing.
You just need to organise it for a time that works for you and the tenant, giving them at least 24 hours’ written notice.
When your tenant moves in, you also need to test all the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
You’re responsible for the batteries in these, but it’s your tenant’s responsibility to test them. They need to do this regularly once they’re in and let you know if they stop working.
Also, when your tenant moves in, you need to supply them with an energy performance certificate for the property.
Landlord responsibilities for the garden
Your tenant is responsible for keeping the garden maintained so it’s not overgrown.
As a landlord, you’re responsible for the maintenance of the bigger things, such as fences, sheds and trees. If a tree poses a risk, you need to appoint a tree surgeon to fix it.
Although it should be pretty clear, on occasions there can be confusion over who looks after the different parts of the garden. You can include a garden clause in your contract with your tenant to cover garden maintenance, just for the avoidance of any doubt.
Are landlords responsible for pest control?
Yes - if there's a pest situation, such as mice or wasps, it's up to the landlord to sort the issue out as soon as possible. You must arrange and pay for the removal of the pests.
If you have landlord home emergency cover, this should cover pest infestations - although it might not pay out for repairs to anything damaged by the pests.
Is a landlord responsible for tenants behaviour?
Not usually. A landlord isn't responsible for nuisance tenants, such as those causing repeated loud noises or leaving rubbish out.
But you're usually be expected to help to solve the problem, which is often via a local council. You should also carry out checks beforehand, such as references from previous landlords.
Who's responsible for mould - the landlord or tenant?
The landlord is responsible for keeping a property free from mould. But the tenant must also make sure they're doing everything possible to reduce the risk of mould.
This includes keeping the property well ventilated. But they can't be expected to follow unreasonable demands from a landlord, such as keeping the windows open in the winter.
There are more details about how to prevent mould and how landlords can fix the problem on the Shelter website.
Mould is an issue where there can often be an overlap between landlord and tenant responsibilities. You may need to seek specialist advice before acting to find out who needs to do what.
Is a landlord responsible for a water leak?
Yes - landlords are responsible for the building and this includes any leaks from water pipes. They need to fix the problem and carry out any repairs as soon as possible.
What are the fire safety regulations for landlords?
Landlords have a legal duty to adhere to basic fire safety principles. This includes providing a working smoke alarm on each storey of the building.
A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, for example a wood-burning stove.
Tenants must have access to escape routes at all times. Fire alarms and extinguishers must also be provided if the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO). It is an HMO if at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household, and they share facilities.
Landlords are also expected to carry out a fire risk assessment, and to review it every 1-2 years. You can employ a fire safety professional to do this.
What are the fire safety regulations for furniture and furnishings?
This applies to landlords letting a furnished property. It covers furniture such as sofas and beds, but basically all furniture and upholstery. It all needs to meet minimum fire safety standards.
Any furniture and upholstery you’re leaving in the property should have original fire safety tags still attached.
Firesafe explains the legislation on its website.
You should arrange a fire risk assessment to check whether a property is safe. This should be done by a professional, especially if it’s an HMO.
What do I need to know about fire extinguishers as a landlord?
Fire extinguishers need to be checked every year.
Checks need to be carried out by a fire extinguisher service engineer. You can buy ‘service-free’ extinguishers, but landlords still need to carry out checks in line with the manufacturer’s guidance.
If your property is an HMO, you need to have a fire extinguisher on each floor. A fire blanket is required in the kitchen.
Take time to properly assess fire hazards in the property.
- Ensure there are no fuse boxes hidden under coats
- Ideally use paint on walls instead of wall paper
- Clear the exits of clutter or furniture
- Use exterior doors that can be opened from the inside, without a key
What are the gas safety regulations?
Landlords need to ensure gas appliances, flues, chimneys and fittings are all working correctly and efficiently. Here are the main points to note:
- A Gas Safe-registered engineer performs annual checks on the property (boiler, pipes, appliances)
- You must give a copy of the landlord gas safety record to the tenant within 28 days
- You must maintain all the gas appliances and pipework, keeping it safe for your tenants